Have you ever been stuck on your commute for hours? Try to count how many billboards you pass by on your morning commute. Five, ten, or more than you can count on your fingers? This is precisely why billboard advertising still works in 2021. It’s big, bold, and makes its presence known amid a sea of online content.

But putting up a billboard won’t immediately catch the attention of onlookers. A prime location, a good strategy, and most of all, effective billboard designs can make or break the success of your campaign. 

To make an effective billboard advertisement in 2021, we’ll need to go through the basics first:

  • What is Billboard Advertising?
  • Billboard Advertising Effectiveness
  • Designing for Billboards
  • Billboard Advertising Advantages and Disadvantages

What is Billboard Advertising?

Billboard advertising is a large-scale advertisement of a brand or campaign. They are print or digital posters usually placed high in places with vast traffic, such as highways and major city roads.

Being one of the types of outdoor advertising, its large size effectively makes it noticeable to many people. And because of their placement on busy roads, billboards also tend to have a higher number of impressions from a bigger market base than other methods.

Billboard Advertising Effectiveness

commuters and pedestrians looking at a billboard

If you still doubt the effectiveness of billboards in the digital revolution, these quick facts can get you started.

  • Billboard advertising costs 80 percent less than television
  • Four of the ten biggest billboard spenders are tech companies (Apple, Google, Amazon, and Netflix)
  • Billboards are expected to grow to a $33B industry by 2021
  • About 71 percent of consumers often look at the messages on roadside billboards

Some billboard advertising examples include print billboards, but today we also have digital billboard advertising. In fact, you’ve probably spotted mobile digital billboards attached to vehicles on the road. Yup, those are also growing in popularity. 

All these different outdoor ad types make for various ways companies can advertise their products or services. Despite different mediums, the main goal of billboard advertisements is to cultivate brand awareness. But the tricky part is, it has to deliver the message in about eight seconds. That’s why reaping billboard advertising benefits takes skill and strategy.

Designing for Billboards

designers brainstorming ideas for a billboard design

Billboard advertising isn’t as simple as putting a logo and brand name on a tarp and calling it a day. In fact, billboard advertising effectiveness calls for a highly strategized platform design. 

Here are some things to consider when brainstorming for your billboard design and your overall outdoor advertising marketing strategy.

Less is more

When it comes to design, the simpler and easier to understand, the better. After all, the ad has to make an impression in a few seconds’ time. Use bold colors and a straightforward copy to get your message across. When it comes to copy length, seven words is a good benchmark. In addition, use the brand’s primary colors and leave enough negative space to let your message sink in. 

Show, don’t tell

Good marketing campaigns tell interesting stories that leave an impression long after you’ve seen them. This may be the most important concept in publicity and marketing. Designers must strike a balance between familiarity and creativity. In short, designs have to be recognizable but interesting and unique enough so that they stick.

Think outside the box

There are many ways to make your design pop out above the rest. Try to think outside of the box and utilize the surrounding environment to produce an engaging design. For instance, are electrical wires blocking your billboard? Try incorporating those into the design to show ingenuity. Some marketers also incorporate light effects and 3D elements. In short, don’t feel the need to limit yourself to the design elements within the image.

Find the best location

Even the best design won’t do you any good if the ad isn’t placed in a prime spot. That said, finding a good location to set up your billboard already does half the job. Remember: factors like visibility, traffic speed, destination, and the proximity of the billboard to the road can elevate the effectiveness of a design. Scale the elements of your design according to the location and try to see from the consumer’s perspective.

Billboard Advertising Advantages and Disadvantages

two people looking at a board with pros and cons of billboard advertising

Of course, billboard advertising has its pros and cons. When thinking of building a billboard, you also have to take note of factors such as circulation, demographics, and impressions.


Specialized location

While many digital marketing schemes or paid ads on Facebook and Youtube are skippable, billboards are immovable–so people will have to look at it no matter what time of the day.

Wide and comprehensive exposure

Speaking of time of the day, billboard advertisements are also working 24/7. Unlike TV or Youtube commercials, where they are only aired for a certain time, billboards don’t ever stop working. 

Brand awareness

Finally, billboards scream, “Look at me!” It’s a sure-fire way for companies to reinforce the image of the brand in mind. 


Short time period exposure

If you aren’t someone who routinely passes by where billboards are placed, chances are, you won’t even remember passing by that billboard. In addition, billboards are often placed side by side. That means if you don’t have a design that can compete with creative billboard ads, then it will just get lost in a sea of other billboards.

Weather woes

This might sound obvious, but weather conditions and the elements can always damage outdoor ads. Whether it’s the sun baking the tarp to fade or harsh gusts ripping the print, billboards can be susceptible to outdoor damage. 

The Lowdown

Despite the emergence of digital ads, billboard advertisements work. They’re a versatile way to promote businesses and brands. They stand out in a time where ads and promotions mainly occur on small screens.

Amid its pros and cons, billboard advertising will be here to stay. And the next time you pass by a giant billboard on your way to work, think about how effective that campaign has been on you.

Need a billboard design that turns heads? Penji can help. Because we have the top two percent of designers, we know just the right approach to pique your audience’s interest.

Best of all, we offer unlimited graphic design at a flat monthly cost. Sign up now by clicking this link to enjoy 15% off the first month of any plan. The best part? You can try any of our packages risk-free for 15 days, so there’s nothing to lose.